Passengers wearing protective face masks wait to leave the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International AirportShivaji Maharaj International Airport after India cancelled all flights from the UK due to the new strain of the coronaviruses COVID - 19 in Mumbai, India on December 22, 2020. NEW DELHI, Nov 26, Reuters -- India has issued an advisory to all states to rigorously screen international travellers from South Africa and other at risk countries as a result of concerns over a new coronavirus variant, after easing travel restrictions earlier this month.
The federal health ministry said there were reports of mutations in the new variant, identified as B. The variant 529 had serious public health implications, and has serious public health implications for the country in light of recent relaxation of visa restrictions and opening up of international travel, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states issued late on Thursday.
On Friday, the UK Health Security Agency said that the new variant has a spike protein that is dramatically different from the one in the original coronaviruses that COVID 19 vaccines are based on. It could make existing vaccines less effective.
Britain has banned flights from six African countries and asked returning British travellers to be quarantined from those destinations.
India, the second-worst country affected by COVID 19, posted the smallest increase in new cases in one-and-a-half years this week due to rising vaccine and antibodies in a large portion of its population from previous infections.
The country's total cases of the coronavirus reached 34.56 million on Friday. India's daily caseload has halved since September, and the country reported 10,549 new cases on Friday.
India identified 10 countries at risk that include Europe, Britain, China, South Africa, and New Zealand earlier this month. It has opened its borders to 99 countries.
Indian shares fell more than 2% on Friday, as investors fled risky assets panicking over the impact of the new variant. The losses were in line with the steep falls seen in markets across Asia.